In the News

LA-Based Vegan Ramen Shop Boils Up New Location in Hot Heights Mixed-Use Development

Eric Sandler | Culture Map

March 15, 2021

A plant-based ramen restaurant will open in The Heights next month. Rakken Ramen comes to the M-K-T Heights mixed-use development from California, where it has six locations, and Tokyo (three more). Slated to open in April, it will be the restaurant's first Texas location

Traditionally, ramen restaurants make a pork-based tonkotsu broth, but Rakken Ramen's vegetable broth gets its umami punch from a combination of kombu (edible algae), mushrooms, carrots, onion, ginger, and garlic. Diners may satisfy their carnivorous cravings by adding pork chasu or chicken to their noodles. The menu also includes an extensive selection of appetizers and small plates such as gyoza, shumai, karaage, hand rolls, and steamed buns.

"Yes, there are vegan options, but even if you’re primarily a meat-eater, you can come away from any of Rakken’s three LA locations feeling, just for a brief moment, like you might briefly grasp the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs," Patricia Kelly Yeo writes for The Infatuation. "Our favorite, the Amber, lets the umami flavors shine against the thin noodles and a few slices of chashu."

Rakkan Ramen comes to Houston from franchisee Chris Lav, who opened a Pokeworks at the corner of Westheimer and Shepherd Drive to Houston in 2018; he now operates five locations of the NYC-based chain. Lav discovered Rakken Ramen during a visit to Los Angeles and decided to bring five locations to Houston.

"I couldn’t believe a 100-percent plant-based broth tasted so good. I was sold," he said in a statement.

Rakkan Ramen will open in M-K-T's Building 5, where it will join Blue Sushi Sake Grill, a lively sushi concept from the Omaha-based Flagship Restaurant Group, and Da Gama Canteen, an Anglo-Indian pub from Oporto owners Shiva and Rick Di Virgilio. Both are expected to open this summer.

“Houston has a great food scene and is incredibly diverse,” Lav added. “The vibe at M-K-T is laid-back and modern, it just looks like a great place to be happy.”